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Q&A with an attorney: Attaining children’s disability benefits

Children’s disability cases are not easy to win. Many attorneys don’t bother taking these cases due to how much goes into proving a child is disabled in front of a Social Security Administration judge. However, Harold W. Conick, a Chicagoland attorney, said it is not impossible to prove.

Conick answered a few questions about what it takes to win a child’s disability case.

Q: What makes these cases different from an adult’s disability claim?

Conick: Well what sets it apart is the Social Security Administration assesses a child’s case differently than they do an adult’s case in terms of functionality. In an adult case, functionality would be whether or not a person is unable to work at a competitive job because of of physical or mental illness. In a child’s case they would look at multiple domains of functionality. These have to do with the ability to learn, socialize, their health and well-being and behavioral issues.

If a child has a marked level of impairment in two of the domains or one extreme level in any of the domains, they would be considered disabled by the SSA.

Q: Are these cases more difficult to win?

Conick: Yeah, they are more difficult to win than adult cases. Many of the judges don’t like to label children as disabled if they can help it. Many times, the child doesn’t have enough medical treatment to support a claim of disability. The child cannot testify on their own behalf because they’re not old enough to deal with testifying. However, It is not impossible to win as long a there’s enough medical evidence.

Q: What are some of the main cases that receive benefits for children?

Conick: Mental illness, behavioral problems and learning disabilities such as ADHD. Also, severe physical handicaps will support a disability claim for children.

Q: Any that are harder to prove?

Conick: Behavioral mental illness can be difficult to prove, but it can be done. Also, even though they are common, ADHD cases can be a challenge.

Q: How long do these benefits usually last?

Conick: The SSA can review them basically at will, although they don’t. It’s usually an annual report that has to be submitted. Once they become an adult they will have to quality for adult disability from the SSA. This means another assessment, which may involve another hearing.

Q: What’s the main thing for a guardian to know when applying?

Conick: They have to know that in order to prevail, there has to be sufficient medical treatment to prove severity, no matter if the illness is mental or physical. Without this, it’s pretty difficult to prove the case. With sufficient medical evidence, there’s a much better chance of having a child’s disability case approved.